Upside Down Cardamom Fig Cake


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The recipe for the cake in this Upside Down Fig Cake is from my Upside Down Apricot Snacking Cake. While I love creating new recipes, sometimes there just isn’t a need to completely reinvent the wheel. Recipe development and testing take a lot of time, especially for baking. And if I had to choose a cake that represents who I am as a baker, this is it. A fluffy crumb, lots of flavor, and easy on the sugar and butter while still being delicious for any and everyone. Flavor comes from a combination of cardamom and caramelization (primarily from the light brown sugar and brown butter). The light texture is thanks to almond flour and yogurt. Learn more about the intention behind each ingredient below.

I tried making this cake with figs when I was having a hard time finding apricots in August. Figs are the perfect fall substitute. While they don’t taste anything like apricots, they have a similar size so they can be halved in the same way. I love that the figs are almost whole, rather than being chopped up. They also lend themselves to caramelization. So considering this a fall version of this apricot cake (and maybe I’ll have to create a winter one too…).

Behind the Recipe: Upside Down Cardamom Fig Cake

  • Whole Wheat Pasty Flour: The key to using whole grains in a cake without being tough or too dense. Yes, there is a difference between whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, and they are not interchangeable. However, if you only have whole wheat flour, use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour to get a similar result. This will include whole grains while keeping it nice and light and fluffy. You can also just use all-purpose flour if you prefer.
  • Greek Yogurt/Skyr: It’s similar to adding in sourcream or buttermilk, two other dairy products that many cakes often have and traditionally are folded in right at the end. It helps bring a lightness to the entire cake and also will activate the baking powder/soda due to its acidity. This is one of my favorite ingredients to add to my cakes, as you can see in these strawberry lemon cupcakes and brown butter summer berry cake.
  • Blanched Almond Flour: Almond meal gives it a fluffy and buttery taste and texture. Be sure to use blanched fine almond flour like this one from Bob’s Red Mill. If you use a coarse almond flour, it will affect the texture of the cake. I also like to quickly sift my almond flour using a strainer because it can often clump. It takes about a minute to do and will make sure you don’t have any clumps.
  • A combination of light brown and white sugar: White sugar helps keep the cake nice and light, while light brown sugar adds in a caramel undertone.
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Upside Down Cardamom Fig Cake

Servings 1 cake (8-10 servings)
  • 10-12 small figs, halved
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, 1 tb goes on bottom with 2 tb honey
  • 1 cup (128g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup (128g) blanched almond flour, , sifted in mesh strainer
  • 2 tablespoons honey, , for bottom (you could also probably use 2 tablespoons white sugar if you prefer, but I have not tested this)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) plain greek yogurt or skyr, , 1% or higher fat
  • Add butter to a 8'' cast iron pan (the one you plan to bake and serve in). Heat over low to medium heat until completely melted.
  • Pour almost all of the butter in a large bowl, leaving one tablespoon or so behind in the pan.
  • Add honey to pan and place pan back over low medium heat until honey is rapidly bubbling. Let sit bubbling for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Turn heat off and place halved figs on the pan. Figs should be skin side up/cut side down and arranged in a concentric pattern (start with the outside of the pan and then go in). Set pan aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, add sifted almond flour and whole wheat pastry flour. Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Stir. Set aside.
  • Add sugar to the large bowl with the melted butter and whisk vigorously. Add in eggs and vanilla until lighter in color. Then fold in flour mixture with a spatula- add in about a third of the mixture, fold, and then repeat until all used.
  • Fold in yogurt until well incorporated.
  • Pour batter into 8'' skillet. It will be quite thick, don't worry.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it has pulled away from the side of the pan a bit and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before using an offset spatula to loosen the cake from the pan, then flip upside down onto a cooling rack.
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